North America, Europe · 9 Days · 33 Moments · June 2017

Paris and the Riviera EF Tours 2017

1 July 2017

7/1 Saturday: We are back in the USA! Waiting to get on our bus and make our way back to Monty :)) Here are our happy faces upon arrival, passing customs, and getting baggage! That was a long process... We also got snazzy matching bracelets in Nice to remember our trip and friendships!
7/1 Saturday: We left the hotel at 9:15 and have already gotten to the Nice airport! Here we are, on the plane and waiting for take-off. When we got to the airport, our flight was delayed 1 hour and was supposed to take off at 1:16 pm, but when we got to the gate, the plane was still not there. As of right now (1:30 pm local time), we are waiting on the tarmac and have been told that we should start to go towards take-off in about 15 minutes. In any case, we will text via Remind App when we land at JFK to let everyone know when we are ok our way back to Monty! Au revoir et à bientôt! 🇫🇷✈️🇺🇸

30 June 2017

6/30 One more addition
6/30 Friday: We started with breakfast at the hotel, in typical French style. Our trip to Monaco gave us many choices of French and Mediterranean foods, with pizzas and pastas, tartines and sandwiches, and savory and sweet crêpes. Most of us chose a quick lunch, to explore the opulent city-state as much as possible. Back in Nice, we passed some exotic salt and spice shops, showing the influence of other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries in southern France. Of course, we had to indulge in one more delicious ice cream at a shop with over 80 flavors (!), a famous one in Nice. For dinner, we had rice with meat in a cream sauce and some pudding-like Flan for dessert. The students were really eager to do a cultural comparison of Macdonald's in the US vs. France, so they dragged us into one... the verdict was that French "Macdo" is a bit less greasy and has more meaty chicken pieces. We had a picnic on the pebble beach of Nice. What a great way to conclude our 9-day journey!
6/30 Friday: How quickly this week has passed in France and we woke up today to our last day of this journey! This was truly an inspiring, eye-opening, and growing experience for everyone, students and teachers, and it's invaluable after effects will stay with us forever. First, we went to a staple of southern French culture, a perfume factory called Fragonard. We learned how perfume is made from essential oils and saw some parts of the process first-hand. With a few purchases, we explored the surroundings and hiked up a large hill to a summit with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea. Next was scenic Monaco, where we lunched and strolled around the Royal Palace, various shops, and historic royal and aquatic exhibitions. We got back to Nice with some time to explore the city and shop a bit more, and even came across some interesting street entertainment, like pink birds! After dinner, we sat on the pebble stone beach and walked around Nice, taking in the beauty one more time!
6/30 Friday: some more photos from today. We even saw a movie being filmed in Nice!

29 June 2017

6/29 Thursday: We changed scenery a bit today as we went further south into the French Riviera, or the Côte d'Azur, as they call it here. The scenery was truly breathtaking- lush greenery, turquoise blue water with foaming white waves, and vineyards and various fields all around. Our first stop was Cassis, where we took a small trolley from the top of the hill to the center, ate lunch, and swam in the clear blue Mediterranean Sea. We took a boat ride into the Calanques of the area and learned about the interesting geography and topography of the city. We drove on to Cannes, the opulent beach town famous for film festivals and star sightings. We had just enough time to stroll down the waterside and grab some ice cream. Next, we got to Nice, where we are staying for the last leg of our trip. After dinner, we went for a group walk around the city and walked down the pebble beaches of the Mediterranean here. We also stopped by a Monoprix, where we had an authentic supermarché experience!
More pictures Cassis/Cannes/Nice/Eze/Monaco
6/29 more photos!
6/29 Thursday: After breakfast in Uzès, had lunch in Cassis, where we grabbed sandwiches so that we could spend more time on the beach. Many of the local foods have a Mediterranean influence here, with sandwiches inspired by Italian meats and sausages or kebabs mixed with middle eastern white sauces. We had another delicious ice cream snack in Cannes and when we got to Nice, we had a delicious beef stew with potatoes for dinner. Some of us were curious about the French dish, foie gras, so since the restaurant made it fresh in-house, we ordered some to share with everyone. The taste and texture are so unique that some of us enjoyed it more than others, but it was a great experience in expanding our palettes and cultural knowledge. We ended dinner with a small portion of fresh vanilla ice cream. During our Monoprix stop later in the evening, some of us bought French snacks and Haribo candies to keep for bus rides and to take home.

28 June 2017

6/28: some extra photos!
6/28 Addition to the wonderful Ms. Kotok s post
6/28 Wednesday: Our first full day in Provence was filled with picturesque experiences of southern France, starting with our trip to downtown Uzès, where we walked around the narrow cobblestone streets and visited the local market, a busy square filled with fresh produce, cheeses, meats, olive and essential oils, and dried fruits and nuts. We had a chance to interact with the locals to buy food for our lunch picnic and we even recorded an interview with a vendor who had a distinct southern accent to show our classmates back in Monty! Next, we went to the Pont du Gard and took in the awe-inspiring nature of the Aquaduc, the ancient Roman irrigation system under the majestic bridge that has withstood so many centuries. We hiked up the beautiful mountainous forests and some of us swam in the river. Later we drove to Nîmes, where we saw one of the oldest standing colosseums in the world and the best preserved Roman temple that stands today. We got to shop and explore😎.After dinner, UNO!
6/28 Wednesday: The food during our breakfast was a bit different than we had eaten in the north- we had more dried fruits and figs, marmelades, and juices. Our lunch picnic experience was unbelievably scrumptious- many of us couldn't fathom how fresh, flavorful, and simply delicious the fruits and vegetables were that we bought at the open air market. The cherry tomatoes burst and melted in your mouth, the strawberries were overflowing with sweet nectar, and the cheeses and tapenades were so pungent and artisan, it's hard to believe they were so affordable and purchased in a simple local market. We had a quick ice cream break in the town square of Nîmes before going to dinner in the quaint city. For our evening meal, we enjoyed stuffed baked tomatoes over white rice, a French tradition. We even had some tapenades and and fruits left over for a snack when we got back to the hotel!

27 June 2017

6/27 Tuesday: We woke up extra early and had to leave our beloved Paris this morning. We experienced the busy Gare de Lyon while waiting for our high-speed train (TGV) to go to Avignon, in the south. We got to see the countryside and gorgeous paysages that are so different from metropolitan Paris. In Avignon, we saw the famous Pont (Bridge), and we visited the historic Palais des Papes (Papal Palace), as this city housed the headquarters of the church in the 14th century. We got to mingle with some students from other groups as well. This small city has a quaint center square and a very calm atmosphere, and it has great places to shop for lavender, soaps, cotton textiles, and spices (all of which we perused and purchased!) Next, we moved on to Uzès, where we got situated in our hotel and got to relax in the fresh air of southern France - we played some word games, a few rounds of ping pong, and played got a match or two of tennis before going to bed to recharge for tomorrow.
6/27-- some extra photos!
6/27 Tuesday: We had a big chunk of time for lunch today, so with the leisurely wait times for restaurant services here in France, we had the chance to explore the varied cuisine in the south, especially in comparison to the Parisian fare we had tried during our first few days here. The south is known for its fresh ingredients and vegetables, spices and herbes de Provence, and various fish and meat specialties with Mediterranean and Italian influences. Some students stuck with traditional French onion soups and escargots, while some of us tried dishes such as shrimp salad in coconut milk, grilled aubergine with goat cheese, tuna carpaccio, steak tartare, and warm goat cheese with honey. It will be interesting to find even more comparisons in cuisine between the regions that we visit in France!
6/27 TGV Paris Avignon

26 June 2017

6/26 Monday: This morning, we made our way to the Notre Dame cathedral and learned about gothic architecture and the link between religion and politics during the 12th and 13th centuries from Yunna. We stood in line before going into the famous cathedral to feel it's enormity in person. Next, we made our way across the Seine to the Louvre, walking by the love lock-clad Pont Neuf and shops and haute couture boutiques in the right bank of Paris. The Louvre can be overwhelming (its takes years to see all of it!), but we planned our time wisely and saw all of the must-sees like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo and even then, we were exhausted. Directly after, we pranced through the Tuileries gardens and the summer carnival there and we even went on some rides. We walked past the famous Concorde obelisk and down the Champs Elysées for shopping. We finished our evening with one of our favorite French singers, Eric Vincent- he invited us to visit his boat and sang with us! Amazing time!
6/26 Monday: Some more photos from today's activities!
6/26 Monday: Our lunch today was on the run, going from the Louvre to the Tuileries carnival and on to our afternoon of shopping. Some of us grabbed some delicious smoked fish sandwiches and wraps while others got tasty sweets with cotton candy Nutella waffles offered at the carnival. Walking down the Champs Elysées, seeing a Five Guys triggered some homesickness and we decided to see if the milkshakes in Paris are any different than those back home. For dinner, we finally all got to try escargots! Additionally, we ate puff pastries stuffed with melted cheese, beef bourguignon and potatoes, and profiteroles in a smooth cream sauce. Our friend and favorite singer, Eric Vincent then offered us some jus de fruit (apple and berry juices) and café. It was another great food day!
6/26 le louvre / carnival jardin des tuileries

25 June 2017

6/25 Sunday: Today we started bright and early after a much needed rest last night. We were off to explore the city by bus with our local guide. Our first stop off the bus was at the iconic Eiffel Tower and many of us were amazed at its grandeur, having only imagined it before. We took some obligatory jumping photos and moved on to see more of the left bank of the city, including the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens and the Arc de Triomphe, before seeing the hustle and bustle of the right bank. Next, we made our way to the lavish Versailles Palace, just outside of the city, and were in awe of its extravagant details and breathtaking gardens with sculptures (we even re-enacted a few...). Back in Paris, we climbed to the top of the tallest building here, Tour Montparnasse, and got to see views of the entire city. To finish the night, we took a relaxing boat ride on the Seine and saw both banks of the river from a different vantage point. The Eiffel Tower was just lit as we made our way back.
Vue de la tour montparnass
chateau de Versailles plus en images
6/25 Sunday: Out gastronomic adventures took us to two different types of authentic French meals today. For breakfast, we grabbed croissants or a pain au chocolat. At Versailles palace, we had a common French lunch of baguette sandwiches with various fillings of ham and cheese, chicken and veggies, or cheese. Some of us stopped by the Ladurée shop right near the gift shop and got a few delicious melt-in-your-mouth macarons, each with a unique and delightful flavor. For dinner, we went to a crêperie near the Tour Montparnasse. This restaurant served us savory and sweet crepes made with organic buckwheat flour. The crêpes filled us up for the evening activities ahead!

24 June 2017

6/24 Saturday: As for our culinary experiences today, they were both authentic and varied as well :) We had the option to eat lunch anywhere in the Latin Quarter, so some of us had traditional escargots 🐌and others had French onion soup and chicken breast in a creamy French mushroom sauce. After lunch we tried the strong and very tiny (compared to those back at home!) café with sugar and just a bit of dark chocolate ☕️🍫. Later, we tried Berthillon ice cream, an iconic brand popular in the area of Île Saint Louis. We enjoyed our ice cream on the quai of the Seine. For dinner, we ate a typically French style of pizza from the Alsace region, very thin with a creamy cheese and various toppings, both sweet and savory. We met our permanent tour director, Yunna, and the other 3 groups on our coach bus from Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
6/24 Saturday: We hit the ground running today, right as we got off of our bus from the airport to our hotel near Port de Versailles, à Paris. There is a photo here of the beautiful lobby of our hotel. Next, we made our way into the center of the city, navigating the metro system with the help of our tour director. Our cultural outing took us to the Latin Quarter today, an area of the 4th and 5th arrondissements full of rich academic and literary history as the home to the famous Sorbonne University and the stomping ground of the "Lost Generation" of expat writers, artists, and musicians. We walked along the River Seine and saw the beautiful Saint Michel fountain, as well as the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Later, we ate dinner near the area of the traditional Opéra Garnier called les Grands Boulevards, where we window shopped through aisles of shops selling antique stamps and war memorabilia. On our first day of intense travel and jet lag, we are so ready to get back and recharge! 💤
Arrives Hotel Mercure Paris
In the bus on our way to porte de Versailles hotel Mercure
A little wait at CDG airport
We made it! Bonjour from France 🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷 It was a long flight and some of us got in a few Z's, but we are now waiting to gather our luggage (playing a few card games to pass the time...), meet our EF Tour Director, and start our adventure à Paris!

23 June 2017

After a long journey through New Jersey and New York, we have made it to JFK airport and are about to board the plane! See you all on the other side of the pond, au revoir :) 🇺🇸✈️🇫🇷